Implosion Makes Room For
Port Of Galveston Expansion

At approximately 7 o'clock on a beautiful Sunday morning, a 236-foot high building called a head house came tumbling down at the Port of Galveston. The implosion not only leveled the second tallest building on Galveston Island, but also removed the final vestiges of a 1930s-era grain elevator complex, making way for expansion of the Port's cruise operations.

"This demolition is a major step forward in the realization of our $30 million cruise terminal renovation plans. The grain elevator has been non-operational since 1998 and was located in a prime area to support the expansion needed to service the Port's amazing growth in cruise operations," said Port Director Steven M. Cernak.

Overseeing the demolition activities since work began in June of this year, general contractor and construction manager CH2M HILL brought in an experienced management team to coordinate the numerous challenges facing the project. Among the issues facing the team were removal and abatement of nearly 500 windows containing asbestos and a schedule that required completion prior to the end of September. Tropical storms, hurricanes and normal hot, humid weather contributed to minor delays and obstacles that had to be overcome.

Subcontractor J.T.B. Services, Houston, managed the implosion work, performed by NADC-member Dykon Explosive Demolition, and other demolition services. Vibration monitoring and related engineering services were performed by NADC-member Protec Documentation Services. This is the second implosion on Galveston Island for J.T.B. On January 1, 1999, J.T.B. imploded Galveston's Buccaneer Hotel at the corner of Seawall and 23rd Street. A park and expanded retirement community facility now occupy that space.

In addition to work on the demolition, Denver-based CH2M HILL is providing design and construction services at the port's cruise terminal. The work includes major renovations to the interior of Terminal 1 and its dock area. CH2M HILL also installed a $2 million rolling bridge to allow cruise ship passengers to board through an enclosed passageway, similar to an airline jetway.

In addition to the head house, the demolition included three banks of silos. The largest bank included 427 bins of reinforced concrete, which provided a storage capacity of 5.2 million bushels of grain. Each bin was 175 feet in height. The silos, as well as old railcar unloading facilities and offices, were brought down using the more traditional approach of wrecking balls and earth moving equipment.

All concrete from the demolition (estimated at 240 million pounds) will be crushed on site and used as backfill for the demolished silos and as fill for low-lying areas near the demolition site. Overall, nearly 100 percent of the debris from the silo/elevator complex, including more than 5,000 tons of reinforcing steel, will be recycled.

When it was built, the 6-million bushel grain elevator was the largest port elevator in the United States. It was designed by Horner & Wyatt, Kansas City consulting engineers, and constructed by Jones-Hettelsater Construction Company, also of Kansas City. The elevator was capable of loading grain into boats at the rate of 200,000 bushels an hour. In 1951, the elevator's tonnage helped Galveston set a national record for exports from a single port.

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